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How did it all start?


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We've had a few rather philosophical questions recently, so here's mine?

How did your DC's (or indeed your own) dance journey begin? Did you have any idea at the beginning that it was going become "serious", and how did you start to realise that it was more than a passing interest.

I blame the Tweenies. Nobody in my family had ever danced and I'd never so much as watched a ballet on TV so it probably would never occurred to me to take DD to lessons. But when she was 2 she saw an episode of The Tweenies where one of the characters went to ballet class. And from then she went on, and on about wanting to go - every day for about 6 months until I finally  gave in and started looking. Of course I then had to find a teacher who would take her so young, but I managed to persuade the principal of out nearest school to let her try a few lessons. I didn't expect it to last though - I was expecting her to be pestering for a pony or something within weeks. But she never did, and almost before I knew it our world began to revolve around the studio.

The first realisation I had that she might have some talent was when the teacher awarded her a little silver trophy at the end of the year for being the most promising in her class. She'd only been going a few months and was the youngest in the class so it did surprise me. As did the glares from quite a lot of the other mothers. I didn't realise it at the time, but that evening was definitely a sign of things to come, in more ways than one!

What set the ball rolling for everyone else?

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I sent our eldest daughter when she was three and a bit because she had so much energy that I thought she could work it off on ballet. I had enjoyed it and I hoped she would too. Our youngest went after she’d watched her sister’s end of term class and was desperate to join in. She was only two and a half so it was on the understanding that she didn’t play about in class. She didn’t but when she started school she was very tired at the end of the day and I dropped it. A few months later I found her crying whilst watching ballet on T.V. I asked her what was wrong. “I do miss ballet so much!” Back we went until she was 18...

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Baby ballet followed by local lessons with a great teacher. At 7 she saw Elmhurst on the telly and told her mother she was going there,  we laughed good naturedly and carried on. DD didn't stand out until she was 8 or 9 when she started doing well in exams. At 10 it was suggested she should audition, nice idea but waste of time I thought. When she got finals at both WL and Elmhurst it came as a bit of shock. She didn't get a place but went on to make the most of some other great opportunities. She's now at Elmhurst! Still in shock.

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Nobody in our family had ever done anything non-academic least of all dance. One day someone in my NCT group phoned to say her daughter was starting ballet lessons when she started school and did my elder daughter want to go with her. So she went and thought it was OKish. In a desperate attempt to gain an hours peace in the house, whoever took No1 daughter to ballet lessons was required to take her small sister along. Small and very determined sister used to watch the class through the door and cry to go in. After many weeks of this nonsense I plucked up the courage to ask the (scary) teacher if she could start class. Small d was allowed to start on her 3rd birthday, I did notice that she marched in without a backward glance, whereas others of her age had to be surgically removed from mummy's leg. And after that I never gave it a thought until an unexpected letter arrived in summer holidays from the dance school as small d was going into Year 2 at school. I assumed that the letter was a bill so I ignored it lol. It actually turned out to be an invitation to extra ballet training, and that dear reader, is how I came to sign my life away. At a stroke Friday evenings, weekends and half term holidays would never be free again. I didn't know. Anything.

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Ds’s school teacher at 6 suggested dance lessons as she thought he was ‘quite good’. We found somewhere running half an hour of boys ballet per week and a term after that it snowballed into grade 1 classes and an elmhurst associates audition, then 3 years later off to vocational school. His sister followed when she turned 4 although I’m hoping she won’t want to go to school until at least 16.  I can’t imagine our lives without ballet now! 

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My eldest daughter didn't start ballet until she was in Year 2 at school.....just before her 7th birthday. I enrolled her as I has just had her baby sister and the dancing round the living room was becoming dangerous with a baby on the floor!!!! After a few months they made her an Associate at her dance school, so extra lessons once a month. Then just after her 8th birthday I got an email saying she should have a go at the Royal Ballet School Junior Associate auditions. She got a place on that too!! 

 

No one else in our family has danced before and I thinks that why I put it off for so long. And now she has ended up being really good!!! 

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My daughter went to a nursery school that had a Friday morning ballet class. She was not quite 3 and the teacher said she "had something" and should go to ballet class. She started a Saturday morning ballet, tap and modern class. Who knew that 25 years later it would still be her career. 

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this is an interesting question  and i;d love to see some more of the adult  dancers answering. 


anyone  wanting a trope tale of woe from me   is going to be disappointed. 

apparently i did ask at young  child,  but was held off a bit with gymnastics and swimming classes,  did a fair bit of MT in secondary school  and a  few modern / contemporary classes  at  uni  ... 

then   the dreaded shift work took over and a  problematic  relationship .... 

then  in late 2016  , despite  working  in a shift  work based job  (  but  more predictable  than  past  ones )   I though  ' this is an itch i have to scratch'   and started  looking for a class i could take ...  (  the whole being  trans thing was also working it;s way  through my head  as well )  ...  

so i started taking  class   in Lincoln   and loved it ...  found ballet co forum and joined  it ...    through  a friend  i also  started chatting  on social media  with  @sophie_rebecca

 

heard about The Ballet Retreat on here and  sent  Hannah an email   about  the august  2017 one  last february -  it was already full but  i was  2nd on the wating list !  

carried on  going to my  usual  class  on a weekly basis,  negotiated a  few  easements in a  revised shift pattern at work to keep  my monday evenings as  free as i could ( at the cost  of tuesdays and  wednesdays) ... 

then i got an  email  from Hannah  - ' would you like a  place on August;s TBR '  ...  so i  jumped at the chance ... 

went to august;s TBR - presentign male still as i  was still a little unsure of  whether i  'needed' to transition  ... 

my mind was at that point  beign made up so i approached my GP in september about a referral  to the GIC  and started planning my 'social' transition ... 

Last October i had  a business trip to London , and wa in London  for the thursday night  ... so   brave step  i  went and took David Kierce;s Thursday  night class at Central  presenting as  me  ... 

thia nearly brings up to date  , last weekend TBR  - as me !  and  tonight  the final piece of the  first page of my ballet journey  - my regular class  as me ! 

so what;s on page 2 ? 
carrying on  and dancing through   transition ... 


 

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My DS has always had a liking for sparkly things! At 2, I remember taking him in a ladies shop and losing him. He was found playing with some sparkly scarves! Obviously the following year his absolute fave tv programme was strictly. It was the year Russell Grant was on it and he was besotted. I took him to see Russell on tour in Grease a few years later and got him a backstage pass after tweeting Russell himself. He was great with my DS, showed him all the costumes and shoes and he was hooked. At 6, he started ballet class, then tap, then acro, then jazz etc etc...

DS’s teacher likes his flexibility and he is built like a string bean which has helped! 11 this year and it’s still his “thing!” 😄😄😄😄😄😄😄 xx

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I danced as a child and then restarted Tap as an adult. I carried on tapping whilst having my children. The teacher (who had become a friend) asked if I would help her out by chaperoning the 'babies' in their annual dance show. I carried on doing this for a few years and as soon as DD turned 3, it seemed natural for her to start Ballet. She loved her Saturday morning class. 

We moved and found a local dance school. DD started with one class ... 6 yrs on ... she dances ALOT! ... who knows where it will end. 

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Pupsmum + streetdancer 

looks like CBBC  has a lot  to answer  for even before  their Link-up with Northern Ballet for  3 little pigs / ugly  duckling  / hare and tortoise/ elves and the shoemaker

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I have no memory of it, but according to family legend as a toddler when entering St George's Hall in Liverpool I spontaneously swept into dance. I started ballet at about 6 and kept going into my teens. My parents were absolutely clear that it was a good hobby but not to be considered as a potential career.(However, years later when my daughter went off to vocational school at 11 they were 100% supportive.) In the late 70s, then in my mid-20s, I moved to London to begin university as a mature student and mother of a new born baby (I always like to set myself a challenge) and I began to take a class at a local adult education institute (ILEA was great). It was RAD-based Elementary level. A few months later I added the Inter class. I made some great friends in those classes. Then I started looking around for more adult ballet and discovered Morley College (Anne Aylor and Wendy Vincent Smith, both inspiring teachers), then Chelsea and Westminster Institute and Chelsea Ballet (still part of ILEA in those days)...until eventually, around the time I finished my degree, I was taking ballet class everyday and twice on some days, as well as Baroque dance. I carried on with regular ballet classes, even when I returned to the sticks, until around 1990 when I decided it was too hard on my feet and I switched to Kathak (an Indian classical dance style - see Akram Khan). I moved overseas a few years later and sadly let dance lapse. Returned on retirement 18 months ago and I'm back at ballet with a lot of catching up to do. Inspired by the even more mature dancers out there, I'm not planning on stopping again.

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I first started dancing when I was a uni. My girlfriend wanted to do ballroom and I tagged along. I didn't like ballroom. I also did a bit of tap then too, but it wasn't for me. I have returned to tap off and on over the years, but it still isn't for me.

 

My doing ballet was started by loneliness. When I lived in Australia, I was involved in motorbike racing, firstly as a competitor and later as an official. When I came to Blighty, I wanted to continue as an official and the controlling body said they would recognise my qualifications and that I might be called upon once or twice a year. Back in Oz, I had been track side once or twice a month; I was looking to do something to fill in time.

 

I saw the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) were running juggling and unicycle sessions and I thought that might be fun to do. A bloke I shared a house with in Australia learned to juggle, which I thought was interesting. So off I went and founding juggling and unicycling to be quite easy at the basic level but there is loads of scope to spend the rest of your life learning. Through this, I got involved in a part time circus. They had loads of jugglers, but were looking for a trapeze artist. After 15 years of weight lifting, I figured that I was probably strong enough and I started trapeze lessons at Circomedia in Bristol. While I was there, I took up tightwire too. I got pretty good on the wire and I wanted to learn to skip rope. The wire teacher suggest a term or two of ballet lessons would help achieve this, so I started ballet lessons at the DanceXchange.

 

I have been watching ballet since I was at university, but I had never considered doing it. After a term of ballet, my wire technique improved dramatically (yep I could skip) and I decided to carry on with the once a week ballet lessons. After that, it was just part of my routine. I live most of my life on autopilot, going to work, going to the gym and ballet classes without too much thought.

 

Next I took a job in Bristol, to be near the circus school and my then girlfriend. I was spending so much time running up and down the M5 (I live in Birmingham) that it made sense. I gave up the ballet lessons as there was no time to fit them in, and I couldn't find a school in Bristol. After 7 or 8 months, the job was crap, Emma was off to the US, having been offered a chance to work with the Ringling Bros (she couldn't take her wire any further in the UK), so I left the circus school and did a bit of trapeze in Brum. I also went back to the DX and discovered how much I had missed the ballet classes. The trapeze didn't work out, so I did more ballet classes. I used to do three a week and three weight lifting sessions, but it's only two classes a week now as one of my teachers retired.

 

So after 23 years of ballet classes, I intend to carry on until my body gives up or until another obsession takes over. What ever happens, I'll carry on watching ballet and pumping the iron.

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My own start into ballet was when I was 5.  My mum was a professional ballet dancer and had just decided to take over from the local ballet teacher who was giving up.  Mum thought ballet would be good to strengthen my legs as I turned in and rolled my feet.  Fast forward to a ballet obsessed teenager who went on to full time training and unfortunately a career in ballet that failed to really launch - I took this very hard and refused point blank to have anything to do with dance for years - difficult with a Mum as a teacher, and very close friends who had made it into the professional sphere.  No way was I going to teach, I had been on the receiving end of bitter failed dancers and I did not want to be that person!

 

Anyway, I was very pleased with myself for having 2 boys and proudly said to my Mum, thank God I won’t have to take them to ballet ......when my eldest was 5 he went to drama club and he was a first class swimmer even at such a young age.  At drama a fellow Mum with a son, took it upon herself to book my son into a taster session at a local ballet school, told him all about it but has not asked my permission - in fact, she had mentioned it to me in passing a few weeks previously that my son may like to go with hers - to which I said a resounding ‘no thank you’.  I then had an excited 5 year old begging me to go to ballet class!  I relented, said he could go to the taster and was convincing myself that he would hate it, but I would have let him try and we could go back to enjoying drama and swimming.  Can you sense my bitterness regarding this woman - I still can hardly bring myself to talk to her when I see her!!! 

 

Anyway ds came out of his first ballet lesson, I asked how was that,  expecting ‘boring’. Instead I got ‘I loved it!’ I knew from that moment I was sunk - it’s in the blood!  I now have a 17 year old at full Time training - for years I have made a point of saying, ‘you know you can give up anytime’ - to which I get a pitying look and a ‘not today mum’.  I obviously support him 100% in his aspirations and am incredibly proud of him, it’s just I did not want the performers life for him, or the harsh treatment that is an inevitability at times.  Not to mention the disappointments that are just around the corner and the questioning self worth.  

 

I hope he is lucky and he finds what he’s looking for, I dread the gut wrenching dissapointment that is possible with this profession, the poor pay, the poor treatment for a gifted lad who has many other gifts. 

 

Honestly I love ballet but hate it too. 

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Harwel  you  sound like some of the  People i know in health professions  when their offspring  decide they  want to  follow  , despite  the memories of the shift work,  on -calls , missed concerts / assemblies  etc etc ... 


ironically  you  may  well have been a  good teacher of  dance  precisely  because you'd all ready spotted  that  there was something to avoid  becoming  becasue of your background ...   insight  and  all that shizzle -  it;s all about 'getting over yourself' 

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I've two dd. The eldest asked to start dancing the day after her baby sister came home from hospital. She is a very good dancer but very self critical and always said it is just a hobby. My youngest tagged along to bug sisters lessons from being a week old and it is all she knows. She has watched and copies from being able to walk and has always been adamant she will make it as a performer. The youngest dd is much more confident and outgoing but they are both extremely stubborn.

 

When we do shows/comps they both are just able to turn on a little sparkle and have a very good stage presence. Was very tricky at the end of last year as both made the final of a big local talent competition. Thankfully both wished the other well and big sis was overjoyed when little sis was runner up. 

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4 hours ago, Nicola H said:

Harwel  you  sound like some of the  People i know in health professions  when their offspring  decide they  want to  follow  , despite  the memories of the shift work,  on -calls , missed concerts / assemblies  etc etc ... 


ironically  you  may  well have been a  good teacher of  dance  precisely  because you'd all ready spotted  that  there was something to avoid  becoming  becasue of your background ...   insight  and  all that shizzle -  it;s all about 'getting over yourself' 

Haha this is me Nicola. I've always said to my children "You can do anything you like as long as its not medicine". Fortunately none of them has shown any such inclination, although nor do they seem to tend towards 'sensible" careers. Obviously I have a DD, and my youngest is set on a career in sport. Only my middle child is more realistic. He's quite talented musically but thinks he will just keep it as a hobby -  he needs to concentrate on his school work if his astrophysics career is to take off...😄

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6 hours ago, Pups_mum said:

Haha this is me Nicola. I've always said to my children "You can do anything you like as long as its not medicine". Fortunately none of them has shown any such inclination, although nor do they seem to tend towards 'sensible" careers. Obviously I have a DD, and my youngest is set on a career in sport. Only my middle child is more realistic. He's quite talented musically but thinks he will just keep it as a hobby -  he needs to concentrate on his school work if his astrophysics career is to take off...😄

you know what happened  to the last couple of  (astro) physicists who thought music  would be a hobby ...  - Prof Cox and Dr (squared) May  ...

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8 hours ago, Nicola H said:

you know what happened  to the last couple of  (astro) physicists who thought music  would be a hobby ...  - Prof Cox and Dr (squared) May  ...

Ha, that's true. My boys met Prof Cox recently actually. They were presenting at a science and engineering event for young people. Obviously he was the headline "act" and my boys were in very small print a long way down the programme, but still, it was a great experience. He's a fantastic chap - very encouraging to the kids.

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Mum never liked ballet ("Just a lot of hopping about" !!!*!!!*!!*) and wouldn't let me learn. So I did Brownies, and later, Scottish country dancing. I discovered adult ballet age 19 while at university and danced 3-4 times a week for 4 years with a Russian lady who'd emigrated to NZ after the war. Even made it en pointe and passed Pre-El and Elementary exams. Then moved to London in 1987, at the start of the Pineapple craze and went there after work when I could. Had first baby and went to local dance school when he turned one (1992), but mortifyingly had to join the Grade 5 class of 11-yr-olds, then returned to work after a year and gave up again.
Returned to NZ and in 2001 found myself living 3 doors from a ballet school, so joined adult ballet and jazz for 2 years until I got pregnant with DD, when I stopped as I was 40 and nervous.
Fast forward 15 years and a lot of Pilates, walking, cycling but no dancing - and I've enrolled in adult ballet starting Feb 15.
Sadly my beautiful DD is slowly falling out of love with ballet, so perhaps this is my way of keeping it in my life. I have no illusions about what I will look like but that's fine. I'm just glad there is a class for me :D

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DS dragged off to a class with his best friend (whose Mum did adult ballet and had no daughters). Didn't really 'click' until we moved area and he started Vaganova classes age 12 (the only teacher I could find locally with another boy in the class!). For some reason (a combination of the wonderful Judy Breen and the wonderful Aggripina Vaganova!) he just took off and flew at this point. I wouldn't quite say he's never looked back as it hasn't been an easy journey (which one ever is?!) but at the moment he's gainfully employed with both a contract and (finally after 3 months) some wages, so I guess that counts as success on some level..

 

No dancers in our family on either side, in fact no performers at all - mostly teachers, Drs, pilots (and one film producer!). It's been a huuuuuge learning curve ...

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My fault my dd started dancing - I picked up a VHS video I thought she'd like while out shopping one day.  It was called "How to be a ballet dancer" and was in a double box and came with a freebie; a pink net skirt. Dd was only about two and watched that video over and over again until it wore out. She was enchanted by it and would do all the skipping, pointing toes, spring points, the lot. She begged to start lessons and that was it.  Hooked! 

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50 minutes ago, Anna C said:

My fault my dd started dancing - I picked up a VHS video I thought she'd like while out shopping one day.  It was called "How to be a ballet dancer" and was in a double box and came with a freebie; a pink net skirt. Dd was only about two and watched that video over and over again until it wore out. She was enchanted by it and would do all the skipping, pointing toes, spring points, the lot. She begged to start lessons and that was it.  Hooked! 

We've still got that video somewhere too:)

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I started ballet classes too many years ago to remember. The local dance teacher visited my school once a week to teach Ballet in the gym.  As my sister was in hospital it was the ideal afterschool babysitting service for me, according to my mum. No ballet training herself. 

The passion grew, I then graduated to the official Ballet School studios a short walk from school. 

Many years later when I outgrew both school and the studio having to work for a living, I became a senior dancing girl to one of the local AM Dram societies. 25 years of shows I decided to step out of the spotlights and produced two shows myself . A few years later I had two daughters. It felt natural for them to dance. My sons were not interested in the slightest. Started off at one school (family connections) but then moved to my old dance school and the same ballet teachers.  I finally hung up my dancing shoes but my DD’s have carried on. Eldest trained at MT college now covering staff shortages at her old studio. Youngest DD about to embark on the next chapter of her training at NBS this autumn. I have recently been asked to be Chairman for the local Dance Festival and agreed. 

My original Dance Teacher and Principal ‘retired’ at 92 but still teaches occasionally, her former student and then my other and DD’s ballet teacher is still in the studio daily. Having been taught by an Nanette De Vallois herself. 

Feel privileged and honoured to be guided and taught by these wonderful ladies. 🙆‍♀️

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Really enjoyed reading this thread! Dd nagged to go to ballet at age 4, having seen Angelina Ballerina on tv, so I contacted a local school which never rang back. Tried another, and there she started, aged nearly 5. The first indication that she wasn’t going to be bad at it was at the end of the first class, when the principal  asked me where she had danced before. When I said that she hadn’t, she replied, ‘she’s going to be very good!’ I have gained a very good friend in her former ballet teacher and have wondered if she would have still gone to vocational school if the other dance school I rang first had called me back! 

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Lived in a small village with limited opportunities for children but with a weekly baby ballet class in the village hall. So DD - and half her Pre-school group - spent an hour a week from the age of 3 skipping about and pretending to be princesses.

 

We moved when she was 4.5, to a large town. Each child was allowed to choose 1 thing rthat was a priority for me to find for them in our new home. 'Dancing' was DD's. Knowing NOTHING about the dance world, I followed the advice of a mum I met in the park, that there was 'some sort of dance school just by the car park off the local shopping street, some of the other girls starting in reception go there'.

 

Little did I know that I could probably not have picked a more 'serious' dance school within the town had I tried.

 

Roll forward about 18 months, and DD was asked to join the group of girls preparing for festival troupes, and took up MT, then tap. Festival solos followed aged about 7, and after a while Idid have to accept that my DD - who I had never seen as 'a ballet girl', being of a very average body size and shape - was really quite good at this dance stuff. At just turned 15, she's a decent non-vocational student, taking Adv 1 or 2 in all 3 dance disciplines. Not planning to take the vocational route - she is an excellent 'class' dancer, and competes very successfully in groups, but as a soloist or in a 'competition / audition class' shrinks somewhat into herself, lacking that 'wow' factor that is as much character as dance ability - but it will always have been a really key part of her growing up.

 

 

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(Tbh, it was the daughter of a colleague of my husband who led me to take DD's dancing even slightly seriously. She was a class helper in one of DD's early ballet classes, in the new school. When DJH was making conversation one day with his colleague, she said 'Oh, is X your daughter? My daughter says everyone thinks she's going to be good')

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14 hours ago, ParentTaxi said:

 Not planning to take the vocational route - she is an excellent 'class' dancer, and competes very successfully in groups, but as a soloist or in a 'competition / audition class' shrinks somewhat into herself, lacking that 'wow' factor that is as much character as dance ability - but it will always have been a really key part of her growing up.

 

 

 

Oh, I can SO identify with that description! DD tells me that even after 3 years of competing, she still shakes the whole time she is on stage by herself, which of course is even more of a problem en pointe!

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